EU-Japan EPA Seminar in Berlin
On January 19, JETRO held a seminar in Berlin, the capital of Germany, under the theme of "what impact the EU-Japan economic partnership agreement (EPA) has on the further globalization of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)" aiming to promote negotiations related to the EPA. In this seminar co-organized with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), 84 representatives attended from the Federal Parliament, the Federal Government and private companies of Germany.
In the summit meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in April 2014, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe clarified his stance on the EU-Japan EPA that both parties should reach a basic agreement within 2015 and the German Chancellor agreed. The negotiations between the EU and Japan have been gaining momentum since then. Germany and Japan, which both have economies sustained by SMEs, share a common issue: globalization of these enterprises. This seminar was held from this viewpoint.
Greetings were given by Japanese Ambassador to Germany Takeshi Nakane and KAS Deputy Secretary General Gerhard Wahlers, who is also Director of the Department for European and International Cooperation. JETRO Executive Vice President Tadayuki Nagashima made a keynote speech, focusing on three topics:
- Possibility of economic partnership between the two countries
- Current status of Abenomics
- Significance of the EU-Japan EPA
Citing examples of brake systems from a German company which has been adopted in new trains of the Hokuriku and Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train), JETRO Executive Vice President Nagashima introduced public procurement projects of Japan that the EU is interested in. He referred to the recent trend that as two-way investment between Germany and Japan becomes more active, German companies are seeking Japanese partners to incorporate the growth of Asia. Another trend he mentioned was the collaboration, even at the SME level, to jointly create innovation and develop new markets. He also called for German tourists to visit Japan.
Regarding Abenomics, JETRO Executive Vice President Nagashima explained that the Abe administration is currently creating a virtuous circle in the economy and proceeding with structural reforms in the fields of electricity and agriculture. He also stated that the Japanese Government is in the process of "building a more open country" with two types of globalization as an inseparable pair of wheels. One wheel is "outward globalization" through overseas expansion of Japanese companies and the other wheel is "domestic globalization" which promotes inflow of advanced overseas talent and investment by excellent foreign companies. He introduced a case of a leading German chemical company which is expanding its pesticide business in Asia using Japan as a hub. He expressed his expectations for direct investment, including secondary investment, from Germany into Japan, the third-largest economy in the world which can also serve as a hub to Asia, and pledged JETRO's assistance for such investment as the core organization that supports direct investment into Japan.
Regarding the EU-Japan EPA, JETRO Executive Vice President Nagashima highlighted its significance, stating "Germany can incorporate the growth of Asia through this EPA" and "the country can contribute to the rule-making of the WTO". He also emphasized the importance of concerted support by trade and investment promotion organizations, in addition to the rule-making through the EPA, for globalization of SMEs. From this perspective, he introduced JETRO's plan to conclude more memorandums of understanding with other similar organizations in Europe.
In the following panel session, Member of German Bundestag Mark Hauptmann, who was elected from the ruling party Christlich-Demokratische Union Deutschlands, delivered a message suggesting that the EU should focus not only on the FTA with the US but also relations with Asia, namely Japan. Deputy CEO of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry Volker Treier stated that "Japan, which boasts industries related to mobility and energy, can offer enormous business opportunities for German companies" and emphasized that "enhancing collaboration between the two countries, which are facing common issues such as economic recovery and aging of population, will have great meaning".
Active discussions were also made by other panelists including Director-General for Trade Policy Koichi Akaishi of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; Professor Yasuyuki Todo of Waseda University; Head of the Asia Research Division Hanns Günther Hilpert of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP); and Director General Jun Arima of JETRO London, regarding the significance of the EU-Japan EPA and contribution to globalization of SMEs.
|Title||EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) - Impact on the Further Globalization of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises|
|Date||January 19, 2015|
|Venue||Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Berlin, Germany|
|Organizer||Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Konrad Adenauer Foundation|